For Maundy Thursday, many
families have a practice of visiting the tabernacles of three or seven nearby
churches after the Mass on this day as a sort of "mini-pilgrimage"
(any nearby Catholic churches will do). Some families visit the churches directly
after the evening Mass; others go home and wake up in the middle of the night
to make the visits (though since churches are rarely open all night these
days, this would be hard to do). The spirit of the visits to the churches
is keeping vigil in the Garden of Gethsemani while Jesus prayed before His
arrest. Matthew 26:36 "Then Jesus came with them into a country place
which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till
I go yonder and pray."
Maundy Thursday is known as "Green
Thursday" (Grundonnerstag) in Germany, and the traditional foods are green
vegetables and green salad, especially a spinach salad. In Latin countries,
Jordan almonds ("confetti") are eaten today and also throughout Eastertide.
Back when Kings and Queens of England
were Catholic, they, too, would wash the feet of 12 subjects, seeing the footwashing
rite also as an example of service and humility. They would also give money
to the poor on this day, a practice is said to have begun with St. Augustine
of Canterbury in A.D. 597, and performed by Kings since Edward II. Now the footwashing
isn't done (it was given up in the 18th c.), but a special coin called "Maundy
Money" is minted and given to the selected elderly of a representative
In England, the custom of washing feet by the Monarch was carried
out until 1689. Up until then the King or Queen would wash the feet of the poor
on Maundy Thursday in Westminster Abbey. (You should, however, note that the
feet were first washed by Yeoman of the Laundry before the monarch had to wash
them and kiss them!). Food and clothing were also handed out to the poor.
Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, commemorates the institution
of the Eucharist, a Christian sacrament that involves consecrating (or making
holy) bread and wine. The term “Maundy” derives from the Latin word
for “commandment”. The New Testament in the bible describes events
that took place on Holy Thursday. These events include Jesus washing his disciples’
feet and the Last Supper before he was arrested. Many Maundy Thursday church
traditions come from practices that took place in Europe for many centuries.